The Blues last stepped on home ice for a real game on April 9. They return tonight for a practice game fielding a roster full of players who won't be in St. Louis when they open the regular season on Oct. 8. While it seems like a lot will have to happen for this team to be ready, that's less than three weeks away.
We don't want to be a killjoy, but preseason hockey kind of sucks. Sure, it's hockey, so there are some redeeming qualities. It's hockey. But it doesn't feel like NHL-caliber hockey. You see games where prospects and career minor leaguers get a shot at impressing the coaches on a bigger stage. Some line combinations get thrown together as little experiments. A handful of jobs are won or loss. Most guys hope to make it through the preseason healthy and in shape. The fans know this.
Sure the arena will probably be three quarters full. If you come here often and have access to tickets, you won't turn them down this week. The office tickets are usually much easier to get in mid-September compared to later in the year. We get it. But don't expect a lot of energy in the stands. Almost always the fans are there to soak in the sight of hockey after a long, hot summer. That's cool. It's just not exciting. No one in three weeks will say, "Man, that one play against Tampa in September, I will never forget that."
Being the full service website that we are, I went ahead and did some advance scouting of the building on Saturday night when a little up and coming band you probably haven't heard of, the Foo Fighters, were in town. They played a quiet little set. It gave me the chance to check out a few things.
Brace yourself. I paid $10 for a beer in the arena. That wasn't some special concert price for skinny-jean wearing hipsters or leather-clad rockers. That was the price in a very permanent fashion on the concession stand menus and on the beer vendor buttons. Now that was for the large 2x4 cans (Gallagher's favorite). But it's fucking depressing to hand a guy a $20 bill for beer for you and a buddy and not get any change back. If you want to tip (and why wouldn't you, we're not Detroit), it takes more money on top of that. I would wager the beer vendors are hating this new price. No change means no tips. But when the team is for sale and the ownership group has an extension on a loan above $100 million and has broken countless self-imposed deadlines to make a sale happen, beer gets more expensive. Shocking how that happens at the same time.
The lot across the light rail tracks from the arena, just north of Interstate 64, was $20 while small lots around it were less than half that. Hence, the damn lot was empty. Now that doesn't seem like much of a big deal until you hear that we are planning on tailgating for the home opener next month. And the crazies at STLToday had already decided that was going to be a popular place to do said activity. I need a report on the pricing for that lot tonight to see if that was just rock show pricing.
Finally, I can report that while I loved the concert, I still hate going to that building outside the hockey season. Because it only reminds me it's not hockey season. Seeing the banners and the statues outside and shuttered Bluenote stores...it all starts to build and gnaw at me that it should be puck season by now. And then I remember they're playing a game tonight. A game that doesn't count, that won't be on television that won't be remembered much at all past this week. That just makes me more antsy.
If you go, come back here and talk about it. Just don't look for the printed companion piece of this website to be sold outside the building. We don't print the paper for games that don't count. All the more reason to believe this is the fake season tonight.
We'll have a thread to get together and hang out or something. Practice game day threads we'll call them the next few weeks.